“Breastfeeding is the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life”, said Shannon Berquist, mentor mom for B.I.B.S -- Breast is Best Social, and mom of Murphy. Berquist and I met to chat about the “Breastfeeding welcome here” window clings I’ve spotted around businesses in the community. After chatting for hours about this mom-made wonderfood, it seems as though there are more than just perks for mom and baby – business owners, employees and other patrons benefit too.
For the past 70+ years, new moms have been “booby trapped™” by social, cultural and institutional barriers (www.bestforbabes.org), e.g. negative comments; inadequate support by family, friends, the community; formula advertising, etc. Human babies need their mother’s milk to reach their greatest health and intellectual potential; the majority of people know this. So why are so many mothers still being “booby trapped?” Outward support by businesses is one way to turn these social, cultural, and institutional barriers into opportunities: support for moms and a boost for businesses.
I’m not a certified economist by any means, but it looks like breastfeeding is the ultimate economic stimulus package: it’s free which leaves more money for mothers to spend at Lawrence businesses (over $150 savings per month over formula feeding not to mention big savings on healthcare costs), convenient so it requires no planning for those spontaneous lunches with other mothers, environmentally friendly, and reduces noise pollution from crying babies in public places. Reduced noise pollution and more money flowing into the local economy equals happy customers and business owners. In addition, businesses who stand up for breastfeeding patrons tend to also support their breastfeeding employees which is definitely good for business. Mothers who are able to continue breastfeeding after returning to work tend to be more productive, take less sick-leave and have lower healthcare costs.
Breastfeeding is a tremendous boost to a baby‘s and mother’s lifelong health. Mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Formula fed babies are more likely to suffer from infections, constipation and other tummy troubles, allergies, childhood diabetes and obesity.
Berquist, who is currently breastfeeding her son, promotes the “Breastfeeding welcome here” window clings to help break down the barriers for other mothers who want to breastfeed but fear public sneers and negative comments. Businesses throughout the Lawrence community have the opportunity to show their support and help implement the Kansas law that all women have the right to breastfeed in any place she has a right to be.
Here is a list of some current supporters:
- Doodlebugs, 816 Massachusetts St.
- Global Café, 820 Massachusetts St.
- Great Harvest, 807 Vermont St.
- Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St.
- Local Burger, 714 Vermont St.
- La Prima Tazza, 638 Massachusetts St.
Feel empowered to breastfeed in public or cling your businesses window? Contact Jennifer Church at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department at 785.856.5334 or email email@example.com
B.I.B.S -- Breast is Best Social, an initiative of the Lawrence Douglas County Health Department, meets every Wednesday at 6:30pm at the Community Health Facility on 200 Maine in the Health Department waiting room. It’s a great way to share your breastfeeding stories, learn and create a great support group!